ISIS security chief killed near Kirkuk

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Militants of the Islamic State. File photo

ARA News

The Kurdistan Region’s Security Council (KRSC) on Tuesday said an ISIS security chief and nine other ISIS fighters were killed by an airstrike near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

“Our CT Dept confirms targeted CJTFOIR [US-led coalition] airstrikes on 17 April killed an ISIS security chief, Ammar Hassan Mohamad Hassan, and nine others,” Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said.

“The airstrike on the Riyaz-Hawija Road targeted an ISIS convoy. The strike killed Hassan, who was also known as Abu Nabil,” KRSC said.

The intelligence was provided by the Kurdish security forces to the US-led coalition.

The Kurdish Counter-Terrorism Department and the US-led coalition cooperate since August 2014 to remove ISIS leadership from the battlefield. They started to carry out joint operations in 2015.

The Kurds have provided intelligence to the US-led coalition which led to targeted airstrikes taking out local senior ISIS leaders such as Mullah Shwan in September 2015 near Hawija and Falah al-Kurdi in October 2015.

Furthermore, a joint Kurdish-American Special Forces operation in October 2015 freed 70 hostages from an ISIS prison in Hawija, in which one US soldier was killed.

In December 2016, Kurdish and US Special Forces carried out another operation in Riyadh in which Hussein Umair Assafi, an ISIS local commander was killed.

Speaking to ARA News, Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said the cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and the US-led coalition against ISIS is not surprising.

“There’s a joint operation room in Erbil [capital of Iraqi Kurdistan] and all these airstrikes are coordinated from there,” he said. “The coalition makes significant use of KRG intelligence that has established its ground networks in other parts of Iraq prior to the ISIS expansion into this country.”

“Most of those intelligence networks were in use for the surveillance of Iraqi and Sunni insurgent movements, but are now used against ISIS. Another factor is the KRG’s strong relations with the Sunni tribes in Nineveh, leaders of which are mostly based in Erbil. These contacts give the KRG the ability to gather intelligence from local sources,” the security analyst told ARA News.

The Iraqi Kurds have a historical relation of working with US forces to defeat Islamist groups.

In March 2003, Kurdish Peshmerga forces in coordination with US Special Forces killed a great number of senior leaders from the extremist Ansar al-Islam group in Halabja and destroyed their emirate.

When ISIS took Mosul in August 2014, many Ansar al-Islam militants joined ISIS. Now, the Kurds work again with the Americans to take out ISIS leadership.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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